Keeping your anger under control can be challenging. Many people view anger negatively and, therefore, decide to ignore it or bottle it up instead of expressing it. However, anger is a natural emotion that occurs when we feel hurt, mistreated, or frustrated. Anger helps us to know when something is wrong or when we need to stand up for ourselves.
We all experience anger and should then learn appropriate ways to express it. When we have the right tools to manage our anger we can keep it from getting out of control and negatively affecting our relationships, our job, and our health.
Signs of Anger
Signs of anger differ from person to person. Some people express their anger verbally, some physically, and some isolate themselves. Before learning the tools needed to manage your anger, we need to first recognize when our anger happens and how it manifests.
Anger occurs on a range between calm and rage. Most people experience anger somewhere along this scale. However, it can be hard to recognize for some. In those cases, it is helpful to look out for the physical and emotional signs of anger.
- Heart palpitations
- Increased blood pressure
- Stomach ache
- Jaw clenching
- Palm sweat
- Grinding your teeth
- Clenched fists
How do I know if I have an anger management problem?
Recognizing your anger is the first part in considering if you have a problem. Now, loosing your cool or having increased blood pressure from time to time does not mean you have an anger management problem. If you think you may have an anger management problem but aren’t sure, try to determine if you have a pattern of behavior with anger.
Ask yourself the following questions:
Do you ignore people or refuse to talk to them?
When you consume alcohol, do you get angry or violent?
Are your reactions shouting or swearing?
Do you harm yourself or become isolated when angry?
Do you have a hard time reaching compromises?
Rate Your Anger
When you get angry, rate it on a scale from 1 to 10. Zero means you are completely calm, while 10 means you are in a rage. Over time, you will see that your you have more emotional states than just calm and angry. You experience anger at a 2, a 4, and a 6. Rating our anger helps us to recognize when we are angry and what makes us angry. Only then can we start to take precautions against that anger and learn to control it.
Keep a Journal
Keeping a journal is a very useful tool to help you become conscious of your anger and your triggers. Write down all the moments during the week when you feel angry and what provokes you. Give yourself an anger rating. Record what specifically made you angry, what you were thinking, how your body felt, how you felt before the situation, and how you felt immediately after. What was the result of the encounter?
After a week, go back and review your journal. Do you notice any patterns? Did anything specific trigger your anger? These triggers are your anger buttons. When one of these buttons gets pushed, you feel angry.
The more detailed your journal the better. Because the better you know your triggers, the better you can manage your anger and respond in productive ways.
What is anger management?
Anger management is a compilation of a variety of tools that you can use to channel your anger in a more beneficial way. You may not be able to avoid the things that anger you, but you can control how you react to them. Anger management helps us to reduce our emotional and physical reaction to anger so that we may react more constructively.
Remember that being angry all the time or frequently reaching high levels of rage is not only bad for your health, but also your relationships.
Anger Management Tools
When you become angry, your heart rate increases. To gain control of this anger, you want to bring your heart rate down. You can do this by slowing your breathing and relaxing your muscles. Take slow, deep breaths. Remember to inhale slowly and exhale slowly. Count to five as you breathe in and count to five as you breath out.
Notice how you lungs expand, your chest rises, and the air goes in and out of your mouth or nose.
Relax your muscles while you breathe by visualizing yourself sinking into your seat or against a wall.
Take a Timeout
Taking a break before we react to what angers us can help us, and others, to gain perspective on the situation and react in a more constructive way. This can be done by taking a few moments to think before you speak or by completely leaving the room.
Take a Walk
Go outside and get some exercise. Can’t go outside? Take a lap around your house or around the office. Exercise helps to reduce stress and can help to deescalate your anger. It is a great break from the situation and gets your blood flowing in a positive way.
Have a Mantra
A mantra is something that you can repeat to yourself when you are angry. It reminds us to have perspective. It can also be very calming. Some possible mantras could be, “let it go”, “take it easy”, “it’s not the end of the world”, or “peace is a choice”. Pick a mantra that makes you feel good. Repeat this mantra whenever you are faced with a trigger. This can be done out loud or in your head.
How can a therapist help?
If you are struggling with your anger and managing it on your own, it is helpful to seek help from a therapist. In the face of anger, we aren’t always able to see things clearly. Therefore, it is great to seek help from an objective party.
A therapist helps us to clear the fog, shine light on the root of our anger, and help us move forward. A therapist can help to teach you the skills you need to manage your emotions, help you to identify underlying causes, and even come up with a treatment plan to address your unique needs.
Struggling to manage your anger?